Ashley and the HS2 Railway

The HS2 railway has been cancelled but Ashley and surrounding areas are still at risk. 

After almost a decade of correspondence, petitions, meetings and tens of thousands of pages of documentation which Ashley Parish Council's HS2 subgroup had to negotiate, the Government announced the cancellation of Phase 2 of the HS2 railway.

Although the news was welcomed by many people along parts of the HS2 route, it has proved less than popular by those living near the route of the HS2 Manchester Airport spur because the land earmarked for that part of the route has been retained in case the Northern Powerhouse Railway constructs a railway between Liver pool and Manchester Airport.

According to the Government, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR):
is a major strategic rail programme, specifically designed to support the transformation of the North’s economy by providing effective and efficient rail connectivity between the North’s major economic centres, offering a faster and more reliable service across the entire region. Connecting the people, communities and businesses of the North.

The issues with the Northern Powerhouse Railway wanting to construct a station at the airport are very similar to those identified with HS2. For example, there will be many very large, heavy construction lorries using unsuitable roads, Junction 6 of the M56 will still need realigning, there will still be a need to tunnel underground to Manchester Piccadilly and there will be construction noise for years etc., etc..

At least there was some slight justification for the HS2 railway in that it would permit travel between Manchester and London. The NPR will not go south but will still require construction at a high level similar to that of HS2 and will incur high costs for a train that presents few benefits.

There are viable alternatives for getting to Manchester Airport from Liverpool none of which involve creating a second station at the airport. It should also be noted that the exisitng train service to the airport from Manchester only carries 5% of airport bound passengers.

The Following Information is Historical but still has Some Relevance;

Petition Against the HS2 Railway (Crewe to Manchester)

On 20th June 2022 the HS2 Phase 2b received its second reading, This triggered a petitioning period which began at 9.00am 21st June 2022 and ended at 5.00pm 4th August 2024.

Ashley Parish Council submitted a petition to parliament which set down the objections it had to the current HS2 project design and offered solutions which would minimise the impact in and around Ashley Village.

Ashley Parish Council's Petition

Cheshire East also submitted a petition which covered all areas from Crewe to Manchester and included MA06. Sadly the references to Ashley are very disappointing and do not adequately reflect any of Ashley Parish Council's major concerns. Ashley Parish Council considers that Cheshire East merely played lip service to Ashley's plight. Ashley is one of the worst affected areas in Cheshire and merited much more consideration.

CEC's Petition

The HS2 Bill Deposit in Parliament 2022

On 24 January, the government introduced the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill into Parliament to secure the powers to construct and maintain HS2 Phase 2b, between Crewe in Cheshire and Manchester.

Immediately following the Bill Deposit there was a consultation on the Environmental Statement which closed at 11:45pm on 31 March 2022. The Council submitted a response to the consultation listing its objections to the proposal.

Ashley PC's Consultation
The Independent Assessor's Reponse - note that the responses are for all areas on the route and are scattered throughout the report.

Information Following the Public Meeting on 20th March 2022


There are 3 parts to this section - the flyer sent to residents, the notes resulting from the meeting and some reformatted information which clarifies the number of workers who will be on site during construction.

Part 1: The original flyer here Residents' Flyer

Part 2: Notes from the HS2 meeting on Sunday 20th March 2022 (included immediately below this list)

Part 3: Clearer information about satellite compound start dates and worker numbers (follows immediately after Part 2)

Part 2: Notes from the HS2 meeting on Sunday 20th March 2022

Satellite Compounds
are dotted around the HS2 site and have temporary office accommodation and car parking. Some of them will also have plant storage and workshop facilities. HGVs will also bring construction materials, such as steel, cement, fuel oil etc. These compounds are usually next to Temporary Material Stockpiles which are used to store excavated materials from the construction and will require HGV traffic to import and export the materials.
Railhead (railway sidings) will be built and will be connected to the National Rail and road networks. It will deliver bulk rail-borne materials such as ballast, rails and sleepers.
IMB-R this is a maintenance facility (also sidings) which will look after the trains and track once the HS2 railway is operational.


  • Ashley Parish is in a rural area accessed by a few country lanes and roads. These roads are narrow, winding and do not meet HS2's minimum width requirements. The roads are completely unsuitable for anything other than very occasional HGV traffic.
  • Putting the HS2 railway on a c. 9 metres high embankment and viaduct will create a permanent visual blight for Ashley residents and nearby areas. HS2 wants the railway through Ashley on an embankment purely to accommodate the Ashley Railhead which will be in use over a period of 10+ years.
  • The embankment would split Ashley Parish into two parts and would result in the permanent closure of sections of Ashley Road and Mobberley Road along with some footpaths. All of this will result in longer journeys for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
  • Putting the HS2 railway in a cutting would still generate severe construction noise but the end result would be much less unpleasant visually, would provide sound deadening as trains move through the cutting and would negate the need for the closure and/or realignment of parts of Ashley and Mobberley Roads.
  • There is an alternative site in north Staffordshire called Aldersley's Rough which is ideally placed to carry out the functions of Ashley's Railhead/IMBR. Aldersley's Rough would not only serve Ashley's needs and lessen the detrimental impact upon the village but it would also be capable of serving the needs of the Crewe North Rolling Stock Depot(RSD).
  • It is estimated that the removal of the Ashley Railhead, together with the Ashley IMB-R and the Crewe RSD would save a minimum of £475 millions from the Phase 2b budget.
  • There will be literally hundreds of HGVs on Ashley's roads and nearby equally unsuitable feeder country lanes on a daily basis. For example Cherry Tree Lane and Birkinheath Lane near Rostherne will be subject to HGV traffic.
  • Ashley is not the only village to suffer. The route HS2 has chosen will adversely affect many, many villages. Perhaps not all will be so severely affected as Ashley but there will be significant environmental and physical impacts for each and every one.
  • Apart from HGVs and increased numbers of freight trains plus the disruption to peoples' lives, the number of people working on constructing the HS2 line will far outweigh the total number of residents in many of the villages along the route.

Can an estimated cost for HS2 of £300 million + per mile be justified when it is damaging so much of the environment and forever destroying ecological sites? When does the promise of 'levelling up' and prosperity for the North plus freeing up railways to take HGVs off the road become uneconomical? Remember it is the tax payer who will foot the bill.

Part 3 New information about satellite compound start dates and worker numbers

This information about the compounds was obtained from The Community Area Reports Document M21. If you get chance dip into the book at page 48 onwards - it is quite an easy read and it is enlightening.

Also it is worth noting that most satellite compounds are connected to material stockpile which is where the materials for building the embankments, viauducts etc. By definition this material has to be transported into (and out of) Ashley

The map references are from The Map Book M29. The relevant maps in the book start on page 23

Satellite Compound Name Length of Use Starting In Workers Map Reference>
Warrington main compound No details No details No details ?
The Warrington main compound is stated as feeding the following satellite compounds
A556 Chester Road 4 years 6 months April 2027 Average:   70 per day
Peak:    100 workers + 75 Staff
CT-05-352   (Grid F4)
Agden Brook Viaduct 4 years 3 months April 2027 Average:   65 per day
Peak:    75 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-352   (Grid A7)
Ashley IMB-R**
Civil Engineering Works
6 years April 2027 Average:   70 per day
Peak:    100 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-354   (Grid D1)
Birkin Brook 3 years 6 month July 2027 Average:   60 per day
Peak:    95 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-353   (Grid J6)
Birkinheath Covert 7 years 9 months April 2027 Average:   60 per day
Peak:    60 workers + 45 Staff
Not shown on map
Blackburn's Brook 4 years 3 months April 2027 Average:   80 per day
Peak:    95 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-353   (Grid F5)
Castle Mill Lane 4 years 3 months April 2027 Average:   80 per day
Peak:    110 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-355   (Grid I7)
Chapel Lane 3 years 9 months April 2027 Average:   80 per day
Peak:    120 workers + 60 Staff
CT-05-351-R1 (Grid C2)
Mobberley Road North 4 years 9 months April 2027 Average:   65 per day
Peak:    100 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-355   (Grid A4)
Mobberley Road South 8 years April 2027 Average:   60 per day
Peak:    80 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-354   (Grid H10)
River Bollin East 2 years April 2027 Average:   70 per day
Peak:    90 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-356   (Grid B5)
Rostherne Cutting 5 years April 2027 Average:   70 per day
Peak:    100 workers + 75 Staff
CT-05-353   (Grid B4)
Airport Station main compound 8 years 3 months April 2025 Average:   100 per day
Peak:    150 workers + 25 Staff
The Airport Station main compound is stated as feeding the following satellite compounds
Airport Station north 6 years 3 months April 2027 Average:   90 per day
Peak:    130 workers + 55 Staff
CT-05-357a  (Grid A/B/C5)
Airport Station south 6 years 3 months April 2027 Average:   60 per day
Peak:    80 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-356   (Grid I4)
Ashley IMB-R**  2 entries 6 years April 2027 Average:   35 per day
Peak:    85 workers + 15 Staff
CT-05-354   (Grid D1)
Ashley Railhead 4 years July 2031 Average:   160 per day
Peak:    210 workers + 40 Staff
Ashley Station 4 years 3 months July 2030 Average:   35 per day
Peak:    65 workers + 15 Staff
CT-05-354-L1 (Grid G8)
M56 East 4 years 6 months April 2027 Average:   60 per day
Peak:    80 workers + 45 Staff
CT-05-356   (Grid G5)
Mobberley Road 4 years January 3031 Average:   35 per day
Peak:    65 workers + 15 Staff
CT-05-354-R1 (Grid G2)
Sunbank Lane 4 years 6 months April 2027 Average:   60 per day
Peak:    110 workers + 60 Staff
CT-05-356   (Grid E7)
Airport Tunnel Main Compound 9 years April 2025 Average:   200 per day
Peak:    400 workers + 135 Staff
There are no details showng feeds to satellite compound from the Airport Tunnel Main Compound
The following do not appear in the Tables for the Ashley area
Agden Lane ? ? ? CT-05-351-L1  (Grid B8)
M56 West ? ? ? CT-05-351-L1  (Grid B6)
Peacock Lane ? ? ? CT-05-351    (Grid A8)


The Chris Packham Stop HS2 Petition Debate

Naturalist Chris Packham MBE petitioned Parliament to stop HS2 and repeal the High Speed Rail Bills, 2016 and 2019, as MPs voted on misleading environmental, financial and timetable information provided by the Dept of Transport and HS2 Ltd. It failed to address the conditions of the Paris Accord and costs have risen from £56bn to over £100bn.

The petition closed on 17th June 2021 and attracted 155,252 signatures. Interestingly, every single area of the UK attracted signatures (including the Shetland Isles!) - as can be shown by clicking on the petition link below and then clicking on the map option

The Chris Packham Petition

As the petition attracted more than 100,000 signatures parliament was obliged to have a debate on its contents. The debate took place on 13th October and the link is below. Note that Esther McVey's contribution is at approximately 59:00

The Petition Debate

Mid Cheshire Against HS2

The Mid-Cheshire Against HS2 (MCAHS2) group, whilst not directly involved with the issues in the Ashley area, has created a video which is very informative about the destruction to our precious Cheshire environment and ecosystems caused by HS2- well worth a watch!!


Ashley Parish Council's Meeting with HS2 on 30th November 2020
and Subsequent Actions

The HS2 Subgroup for HS2 had a virtual meeting/presentation with HS2 personnel to receive feedback regarding the outcome of the Design Refinement Consultation which closed in September 2019 (details can be found HERE).

This meeting coincided with a public consultation entitled 'HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation' which opened on 7th October 2020 and closed on 11th December 2020. The consultation introduced 4 proposed refinements to the design of the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b.

The four areas of refinement refer to:

  • A new Crewe Northern Connection and changes to the design of the Crewe North Rolling Stock Depot
  • Changes to the design around Manchester Airport High Speed Station
  • Changes to the design around Manchester Piccadilly High Speed Station
  • The introduction of a new trains stabling facility at Annandale, in Dumfries and Galloway

As can be seen from the above, changes to the Ashley stage of the route, although significant, were not been included. Ashley was able to make comment upon the new map at the meeting but the comments would not be taken into account as part of a formal consultation. In effect HS2 had presented the public with a fait accompli.

The documents and maps associated with the HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation are:

The HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Document
The Full Map Book
The Ashley Area
The Rostherne Area

HS2 Affects All Ashley Residents and Many Nearby Areas

What is not immediately apparent is the effect the HS2 will have on every resident in Ashley, plus surrounding areas, especially during its construction.

Some of the disruptions that Ashley village will endure are:

  • Road closures, realignments and diversions
  • Main line rail closures
  • Constant movement of thousands of heavy construction traffic throughout the village
  • The construction of a massive Infrastructure Maintenance Base-Rail (IMBR) which is a permanent facility for maintaining the HS2 track and the track base
  • Floodlighting of the IMBR as necessary
  • The creation of temporary railheads (similar to railway sidings) which will exist during the construction of the HS2 line
  • Office blocks, multi-storey car parks and accommodation blocks for HS2 workers
  • The creation of construction and satellite compounds wherever they are most convenient for contractors
  • Noise and air pollution during construction which will be floodlit.
  • Constant noise once the HS2 is operational
  • Many permanent stanchions on an embankment which will, in total, stand approximately 15-16 metres in height (c50+ feet) and will be visible for miles around

The Prime Minister has given the HS2 Railway the Go Ahead

It was announced on February 12th 2020 that the Prime Minister has given the go ahead for the first part of the HS2 railway from London to Birmingham and on to Crewe.

He committed to both the London to Birmingham rail line and the next phase from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, saying he would integrate the project with Northern Powerhouse Rail, a wider scheme which included a fast link between Leeds and Manchester.

However, the Prime Minister stated that he would want a review of the northern phase of HS2 (which affects Ashley) as he believed that the route had not necessarily been well thought out, nor was it fully cost effective. Currently there is no additional information about the proposed review but Ashley Parish Council will ensure that residents are informed once the information is released

Below are a number of articles which may be of interest:

HS2 Phase 2B Design Refinement Consultation 2019

Ashley Parish Council's response to the HS2 Consultation can be found Here

The Consultation has now closed but the Secretary of State for Transport's announcement about 11 proposed design refinements to the HS2 Phase 2B route is extremely concerning for Ashley

The HS2 Phase 2b Design Refinement Consultation.This link takes you to links to all the documents for the 11 proposed design refinements. It also contains a link to the online response option, which can be found after all the maps. It is not possible to save the link locally on this website)

The documents below have been extracted from the HS2 website and are those that contain information about changes in Ashley

Below is a summary of the latest proposals from HS2 and some alternative solutions from the Council

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The Proposals

The latest proposals from HS2 will result in the railway line being built on an embankment which, in part and including the gantries, will be approximately 16 metres / 50 feet in height. It will intersect Ashley and will be an eyesore which will be seen for many miles around.

In addition, the proposals will split Ashley into two with Ashley Road being blocked off near Stock Farm. It is intended that a permanent maintenance facility will be built which will result in noise 24 hours a day.

A temporary railhead will also be built close to Sugar Brook Farm. Temporary in this context is for a period of 7 years to facilitate the building of the railway itself. This facility will be floodlit and in operation 24 hours a day during construction

The roads in Ashley will be virtually gridlocked by the immense number of heavy lorries required to bring equipment etc. to the village. Even HS2 admits that there will be considerable noise and disruption in Ashley. What HS2 hasn't addressed is how Ashley's roads will cope with the traffic.

There will also be a new road from Ashley Road which will join Mobberley Road in a T junction and will require realignment of Mobberley Road resulting in the loss of a significant amount of extra land.

It is also proposed that HS2 should join up with the Northern Powerhouse.

There are other less than pleasant aspects of the latest proposals in Ashley but the above are probably the ones which have the greatest impact

The Alternatives

Ideally, HS2 should not come through Ashley at all but, as this is but a dream, the alternatives to having the railway on an embankment would be a tunnel through the village or the railway being constructed in a cutting. Although a tunnel would be the best solution there are many reasons, including cost and engineering limitations, why we are told this would not be possible.

Therefore, Ashley Parish Council is strongly in favour of putting the railway in a cutting. The Council has been in talks with HS2 and has stressed its objection to any solution other than a cutting. Unfortunately HS2 has not been totally consistent in their reasons for favouring an embankment. One reason given was that Network Rail refused to allow HS2 to tunnel under the existing railway to accommodate the cutting; another was the prohibitive cost - approximately an additional £50 million, although this figure could not be verified (i.e. it is a guesstimate!!)

It has also been stated that if another required railhead near Stone in Staffordshire was efficiently placed, there would be no need for a railhead or maintenance facility in Ashley. The Council is pursuing this with urgency.

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Documents and Links of Interest

How HS2 might look   Some random examples of viaducts and embankments - not necessarily for Ashley

Property Blight and the HS2   Although this document was published in 2010, it is still very relevant

Woodland Trust's Community Resources  Of all the documents on this page, this is the one that we in Ashley should regard as one of the most important because it describes the destruction of the ecological balance, the irreparable toll on widlife and concerns about the massive loss of ancient woodlands

An Old Map   This map is extracted from page 55 of a document published in 1996 which shows proposed high speed train routes in the UK and which tends to suggest that HS2 was born of this decision . The full European Parliament document, Decision No 1692/96/EC, is included below, but be warned - it is a lengthy document

Decision No 1692/96/EC